What to do at application stage
In order to find out of there are any suitable available sites in your area, we would strongly advise getting in touch with your local authority to inform them of your proposal and get their input on site options.
It is also important to pre-register your application so that the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), who are responsible for finding free school sites, can start looking for sites for your school. If you already have a site in mind, you can email the ESFA at FreeSchools.ESFAcapital@education.gov.uk to discuss this with them.
There is no assessment criteria for this section of the application. However, you must show that you have made every effort to identify potential site options before you apply and that these options represent value for money. You should bear in mind that if after approval it proves impossible to identify a feasible site, the DfE may have to delay or, in some cases, cancel the opening of your school, so it is a good idea to start liaising with the Local Authority about a site as soon as possible. Section H of the application allows you to name up to four different sites along with information such as: the address and postcode of the site, how you found it, the availability of the site and whether it is on the market.
You are not permitted to enter into any negotiations around purchasing or leasing a site for your school. This will be done in partnership with the ESFA if you are approved.
Other useful resources:
- Our guidance on finding a site
- Detailed guidance on the application can be found in our mainstream, AP and special handbooks.
- Information on the Education and Skills Funding Agency can be found on the DfE website.
- You can search for vacant government buildings near you.
- The DfE has produced guidance on school buildings and designs.
- The Department for Communities and Local Government's guidance for parties considering opening a free school, which contains an overview of the planning system as it relates to schools in England.